PT 3 M minute read

While news headlines focus on the decline of international travel, it’s important to remember that many essential and critical missions are still being conducted by the general and business aviation communities. Many of these missions save lives or reunite people with their loved ones. During a crisis like COVID-19, our industry shines.

“This flight is not going to happen.”…Those disheartening words were the first our Universal Aviation China agent was told upon arriving in Nanchang, China, in support of an essential humanitarian COVID-19 cargo flight.

Undeterred, our response, “We’ll find a way!”

The mission – facilitate Nanchang’s first-ever cargo flight on a private jet

A Universal client requested our assistance in coordinating a mission to pick up 300 boxes of protective COVID-19 clothing in Nanchang, China, and deliver the cargo to Jakarta, Indonesia, using a private jet.

If allowed, this would be a first for Nanchang Airport. Never before had a private jet been given permission at Nanchang to operate as a cargo flight. Not only that, but because of COVID-19, all international flights were suspended at Nanchang.

Our team immediately set to work discussing the flight logistics with the airport and customs authorities and acquire the required permissions.

The biggest challenge was the customs declaration. Usually, on a private flight, anything onboard the aircraft would have to go through the passenger security terminal. This was obviously not feasible for this flight.

Adapting and overcoming the odds on the ground

The morning before the flight was set to depart, our team arrived on site in Nanchang to coordinate the mission on the ground. Initially, the situation looked bleak. We were denied approval from the customs authority.

The flight was in jeopardy, but we refused to give up. Our team spent the next eight hours, working, in essence, as a customs broker, and pleading our client’s case. Ultimately, the persistence paid off, and we were able to find an acceptable solution.

Six more hours on the ramp the next day, coordinating the loading of the cargo and the flight was able to successfully depart and deliver the vital equipment to the people of Indonesia.

Saying YES to critical missions during COVID-19

In the ever-changing regulatory landscape caused by COVID-19, authorities around the world struggle to keep up with, interpret, and implement the rules they’ve been given. Often it’s easier for them to say “no” then “yes,” and many missions are getting denied that, according to the regulations, should still be a go.

With determination and the ability to expertly educate authorities on how a mission is in line with the regulations, sometimes a “no” can become a “yes.”  We were delighted that this was the case for this critical mission.

We are proud to have such generous customers, willing to utilize their private aircraft for these humanitarian efforts, and we’re excited to be a part of Nanchang’s first-ever flight of this type!

Considering a humanitarian cargo flight? We can help.

If you are considering a humanitarian mission during the COVID-19 crisis, we are here to help. Universal is waiving all fees for trip feasibility assessments, research, and consultation services—even if we have to burn hours researching to get you the answer. Now is the time to come together as an industry, and as a community, to do whatever it takes to make these critical missions happen.


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